By Prince Okafor
Lagos—The Federal Government has committed N51.4 billion for the establishment of six Special Economic Zones, SEZs, and industrial clusters in the country.
Of this figure, N1.4 billion had been spent on pre-development phase, while N50 billion is to be spent on development of SEZs and industrial cluster in 2017.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, who disclosed this known at the 5th edition of the EU-Nigeria business forum in Lagos at the weekend, said the Predevelopment studies on the six pilot SEZs in Nigeria to world class standards will commence in December 2016. According to him, Afreximbank and China Exim Bank have committed $1billion into the project.
Commenting on the creation of an enabling environment to improve the ease of doing business, EODB, based on the President initiative, Enelamah said: “Work has commenced on setting up the structure to support the initiative on the EODB, the supporting secretariat has been set up and is functioning in the Nigeria investment Promotion Commission, NIPC. Knowledge experts and technical consultants to support the team have been constituted.
“The Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, priorities are agribusiness and the agro-allied sector. These are focused on auto-assembly and component manufacturing, sugar, food processing (tomato and fruit juice), textiles and garments, palm oil processing and leather and leather products.
“These are the sectors where SMEs are operative. Specific programmes are being implemented at various stages.”
He also noted that Nigerian trade policy practice on trade negotiations and agreements had been revamped and would be used as an engine for growth in the country.
“Nigeria shall, henceforth, use trade negotiations aggressively and ambitiously. Nigeria shall initiate and negotiate strategic free trade agreements (FTAs) with precise objectives, including explicit linkage of access to Nigerian market, as a quid pro quo, for locating industrial investments in Nigeria connected to regional and global value chains,’’ the minister said.
He maintained that a digital led strategy for growth was central to Nigeria’s plan for diversification and growth.
“The digital economy provides a platform for the integration of Nigerian SMEs into the global value chains, with a catapult effect,” Enelamah said.